Objective: To analyze the distribution of leptin, adiponectin and resistin between paired serum and synovial fluid (SF) samples of patients with osteoarthritis (OA) and to determine the potential sources of these adipokines in the joint. The active free form of leptin was also examined by evaluating the level of the soluble leptin receptor (sOb-R).
Methods: Levels of adipokines and sOb-R were measured by a sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in serum and SF collected from OA patients. The levels of adipokines were also determined in conditioned media from cultured joint tissues (synovium, infrapatellar fat pad, meniscus, osteophyte, cartilage and bone).
Results: The adipokines exhibited different patterns of distribution between the joint and the circulating compartment. Serum levels of resistin and adiponectin exceeded those in the paired SF. Conversely, leptin SF concentrations were similar or higher than those measured in serum counterparts. Leptin and adiponectin in SF may derive from each joint tissue examined, whereas resistin was not detected in conditioned media of cultured explants. Synovium and infrapatellar fat pad were the major sources of adipokines, but osteophytes released also large amounts of leptin. The sOb-R deficiency found in SF further increased the difference in the bioactive leptin levels between serum and SF. A gender-specific difference was observed with women exhibiting the highest level of free leptin in the joint.
Conclusion: These data demonstrated that adipokines serum levels are not predictive values for SF determination. The joint cavity is a special space where each adipokine undergoes specific regulatory pathways, strengthening the hypothesis that adipokines may have local effects in the joint and may account for the high prevalence of OA in women.